Rev. Charles Jackson of Brookland Baptist gives invocation in Congress

I enjoyed this video, shared by Luther Battiste. Luther is chairman of the board of the Capital City Club, on which Rev. Jackson and I both serve. It’s hard to imagine a better choice Congress could have made than Rev. Jackson. It makes me think better of Congress.

If you watch it past the invocation itself, and the Pledge of Allegiance, you’ll get another treat — or at least it was a treat to me, by UnParty standards — both Joe Wilson and Jim Clyburn agreeing in praising Rev. Jackson and the wonderful witness to the community that Brookland Baptist provides. I’ve long regarded Reps. Wilson and Clyburn as the two most partisan members of the SC delegation. At least, I thought that until the recent election. And in the conventional sense of party, they still may be the most fiercely orthodox Republican and Democratic members. I’m not sure those new Tea Party guys fit in that category.

In any case, even if you say they are just being polite, I enjoy watching and hearing them get together on something.

17 thoughts on “Rev. Charles Jackson of Brookland Baptist gives invocation in Congress

  1. Karen McLeod

    I wouldn’t put Mr. Wilson and Mr. Clyburn in the same class, partisan-wise. It has nothing to do with either party. I heard Mr. Wilson’s infamous shout of “You lie,” heard his non apology (tsk, got carried away), and watched him parlay that rudeness into lotsa partisan money. I heard Mr. Clyburn shortly afterwards on “The Daily Show.” Although given every opportunity, and even indirectly prompted to say something incendiary before a liberal audience, most of whom I suspect would have applauded, he refused to exhibit any such negative, rude behavior toward Mr. Wilson, or any others. He condemned the alleged racism (I say alleged not because I doubt his word, but because I didn’t hear/see it) directed against him at a tea party demonstration which had occurred, but he did not insult anyone either by nzmd or as a group.

  2. bud

    Clyburn only comes across as partisan when compared to others in the SC delegation. That’s typical of our politics today. The Democrats are mostly pragmatic folks who are willing to compromise. Only a tiny handful should actually be regarded as flaming partisans. The GOP on the other hand has just gone completely off the deep end. Even extreme radicals like Lindsey Graham are now regarded as moderates simply because they are not completely crazy like those in the Tea Party.

    But to give the devil a bit of credit it was nice to see that on a personal level Joe Wilson can show a polite side.

  3. Brad

    Bud, I’m glad you appreciate that. And here’s the thing that may shock you: That’s the way Joe is MOST of the time. That “you lie” thing was a pretty bizarre anomaly for him. The only way I can explain it is that he really, really BELIEVES in his party’s line, and he can get a little worked up sometime. But that was way over the line for him. Unfortunately, most of America only knows him for that.

    Truth be told, between the two, Wilson is the more personable. Clyburn can be gruff, bordering on the pompous (not as pompous as John Kerry, who is probably the least personable national figure I’ve ever interviewed, but that’s a relative thing). This calls to mind an incident when Clyburn’s office had called to ask for an editorial board meeting on short notice. We were happy to oblige; we hadn’t seen him in awhile.

    Over the weekend, there had been a story on the Metro front that I had glanced at and skipped right past, not realizing it was a hot political story. It was dominated by a six-column picture of pristine water and shoreline along Lake Marion. I thought (judging the story by the picture) that it was some sort of nature feature about canoeing or something — and NOT a story I needed to read to keep up with the issues of the day. (No, I never read every word in the paper; I have a life. I triaged my time, and only read the “policy” stories that might have an editorial point. Although I skimmed quickly, I seldom missed one. This was one of those rare cases.)

    Boy, was I wrong, as I realized after Clyburn came in.

    He ripped into us for about an hour about that story, and I had to fumble around and INFER what in the world he was talking about from bits and pieces of what he was saying.

    What was it? It was the first story in the paper about the proposed “Clyburn Bridge,” and the opposition to it. I read it with great interest after the meeting, but I was pretty clueless DURING it.

    It was a news story, not an editorial position. Mr. Clyburn was talking to the wrong people, and had said nothing in advance to let us know that what he wanted to talk about was a NEWS story. So none of the people he was actually mad at were in the room.

    But the thing that really sticks in my mind about it, aside from my embarrassment at my ignorance, was Clyburn’s attitude and tone. He spoke to us as though we were wayward children, and he was just barely restraining himself from giving us a whipping. We were ignorant, and obviously did not care, about the issues facing the poor black folks in the area who NEEDED that bridge. We were objects for contempt, and he showed us what we deserved.

    At times when people have gotten unpleasant in meetings, I’ve gotten right back in their faces. I was sufficiently puzzled and sensible that I didn’t know something that I OUGHT to know that I was unsure of my ground and just let the lecture wash over me. But I remember it well. And I’ve heard that tone in Clyburn’s voice other times, aimed at other targets.

    Joe Wilson, by contrast, is almost comically ingratiating, always THRILLED to meet and speak to and shake the hand of whomever he encounters. So his gushing about what a great guy Rev. Jackson is (and he IS a great guy, a great pillar of this community) is standard-issue Joe.

    By all that do I mean that Joe is a better person than Jim? No. They just have very different personalities. But between the two, Jim Clyburn is the one more likely to get in your face and be unpleasant. Joe “You Lie” Wilson is not. Ironic, huh?

    As for partisanship: Joe has always been the most slavishly loyal Republican I’ve seen, wherever he goes. He was known for it in the Legislature, and he continues that pattern in the Congress. It gets really tiresome, and you wish he’d think for himself once, but that’s the way he is. If there’s a party line, you’ll hear it coming out of Joe’s mouth sooner or later, and probably with breathless enthusiasm (although little rancor).

    Clyburn is a national Democratic leader, a member of Nancy Pelosi’s team. And for that reason he is far, FAR more about party line — NATIONAL party line — than any South Carolina Democrat I’ve ever met. We could debate all day which came first — his uberpartisanship or his leadership position — but I suspect it’s a bit of both. He got to be a leader because he was like that; he’s even more like that because he’s a party leader.

    In any case, the end result is that both of them are much too much about what’s good for their parties for my tastes.

  4. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    Why is an invocation given at the US Congress? Seems like something that advances religion to me.

  5. Brad

    No, she’s not. That one definitely goes into the “get over it” category.

    Many days, I’m sure, this constitutes the one sane moment in the day at Congress…

  6. Ralph Hightower

    John Edwards is not a pompous ass? Okay, he’s a has-been.

    Brookland Baptist is a huge church. My wife and I went there for a funeral of a former coworker and friend. We and our fellow former coworkers were welcomed for his homegoing.

    As Joe says, it is a large church that even has their own credit union.

  7. Kathy

    Well, I see there are some true partisans who read this blog. Wow! There is no useful reason to belabor that point.

    I have known Joe Wilson for over 40 years, and I can attest to what Brad said about Joe. It was completely and totally unlike him to blurt out, “You lie.” His wife said she didn’t believe him when he first told her over the phone that he was the one who had yelled out. I believe her. Anyone who knows Joe would have a difficult time believing that he did such a thing. I’ve been under the impression that every human being does something out of character from time to time. But I guess super partisans never allow for human error—unless the error is exhibited by someone in their party.

    Thank goodness for Brad and the unparty. I used to participate in party politics, but I’ve always voted my conscience. I, too, believe that there should be no “straight ticket” lever or button. I know that hyper-partisanship regardless of the party makes me ill. I’m pretty sure independents feel that way as well; that’s why many of them are independents. I hope there will be more independents and fewer partisans in the future. I’ve never understood how anyone who truly thinks about the issues from an educated perspective could possibly agree with a political party 80 percent or more of the time. I don’t need a political party telling me what to believe.

  8. Steven Davis

    Like I said before, but you deleted, I’m sure this is like ringing the bell at the close of the day on Wall Street… a big deal to the person doing it, everyone else, not so much. Different day, different person doing the invocation.

    I just wonder who paid for his trip to Washington.

  9. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    Wow, that’s a principled, reasoned response, Brad. “get over it”?!?!?

    SCOTUS has clearly established that government may not “advance” religion, but we get a clearly religious “invocation”?

    Look, Rotary is a private organization and can invoke away. It’s when government wraps itself in a prayer shawl that we are out of bounds. Certainly those who are not religious are disrespected, but the sort of fatuous public prayers that are invariably given ought to be offensive to thoughtful believers as well. Stop praying in public and maybe start acting your faith, guys.

  10. Phillip

    @Bud and @Kathryn, your comments remind me of one of my real political heroes, Rep. Pete Stark, the only openly atheist member of Congress as far as I can tell.

    In defense of the invocation, I do believe that in the past, there have been non-Christians invited, for example Muslim and Hindu speakers deliver these, though each time that has caused a certain of consternation, naturally. I’d love to hear a paganist deliver the invocation sometime. Or a Wiccan. Odd as that may seem, that’s much more likely to happen than having somebody invited up there who’ll say: “Hey, people. There is no God who’ll clean all of this mess up when we all get to Heaven. There’s just us here, now, and the people whose lives and whose children’s lives depend on what we do here today. So let’s work together and do the right thing, OK?”

  11. Brad

    Steven, I don’t “delete” your comments. I just don’t approve them, unless I think they add to the conversation. It’s been this way ever since I put you on Double Secret Probation.

    Why I didn’t approve this one before should be evident to most people, if not to you. You have this impulse to heave insults at everyone, under all circumstances. It’s your default mode. In this case, I give an attaboy to somebody in our community who receives an honor that is well deserved, and your first thought is, “How can I tear that down?”

    I, and others on the blog, got tired of that negative drip, drip, drip long ago. I approve your comments when they depart from that pattern.

    And why did I approve this one? So that I could offer the above explanation. Again.

  12. Steven Davis

    “Delete” or “Don’t Approve”, all I know is what I write disappears.

    How is my comment insulting? It’s the truth, it’s not that big of a deal except to the persons involved. It’s not headline news, because it happens every single day while Congress is in session. If they’re in session 200 days a year, there are 200 different invocations by 200 different people. Do the legislators care or listen… probably not.

  13. Brad

    And Kathryn — this is going to shock you, but I don’t agree with everything SCOTUS says. I respect SCOTUS, and I think I respect it more than most people do. For instance, I always do it the honor of assuming that the justices are honestly interpreting the law to the best of their ability, while if you read most commentators, you would think that they’re there purely to advance partisan agendas, and which agenda wins is more a matter of which side has nominated 5 or more of them (I love that the justices so often give that the lie).

    And I think that, until precedent is overturned, we need to respect the justices’ judgments — even when the court is wrong. Which it sometimes is.

    So when I look at whether I think the Congress — the source of law on the national level, and a co-equal branch deserving of equal respect with the judiciary — is acting properly or not, I tend to use the Constitution as my guide, not mutations of the Constitution that made have found their way into court precedent. Not being an officer of the court, I’m free to think this way.

    And in this case, my guiding principle is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” rather than a prohibition against “advancing” religion.

  14. bud

    It’s a tiny step from “make no law respecting an establishment of religion” to “advancing” religion. The congressional invocation may not technically violate the constitution but I still find it unnecessary and a step in the wrong direction. Let’s just open the proceedings with a reading from some renowned philosopher or poet and leave the religious declarations to the churches, synagogues and mosques of this country.

  15. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    YES, this, Phillip–I have long wished some brave secular humanist would stand up an invoke, or maybe even a raging atheist. I grew up in Babdis’ country, and was made to feel “less than” in public elementary school because as a Lutheran, I could not quote chapter and verse. (I could actually recite a fair amount of the Bible, courtesy of the liturgy, but not give the citation). I recall a classmate asking what religion *I* was, and upon being told, responding, “Luthern?! Is that Chreestian?”
    I can only imagine what it was like for David Sawilowski and Julie Wolfe….
    I’d like to “know them by their fruits” and if they want “brand” credit, wear a cross, okay?


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